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The Case of the Missing Investigator

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Less than a month after news broke that a former schools computer services technician had been convicted on child porn charges, former schools inspector general Herb Cousins is suing the school board.

Cousins alleges a conspiracy to "defame" him through a "campaign of character assassination," and says administrators were worried he was getting too close to them with his ongoing investigations.

Reached for comment, Cousins wouldn't specify the nature of his investigations. But he confirmed that he had contacted the FBI about the open cases. His lawsuit serves as a reminder that Cousins's office has been shuttered since schools superintendent Rudy Crew fired him last year. School board member Marta Perez recently asked whether the case of Tony Wayne Dixon, the recently convicted computer services technician, is indicative of a larger problem with the district's internal operations. Cousins said last week that he had planned to expand his child porn investigation to include some of Dixon's colleagues.

For 17 years, Dixon worked for the Miami-Dade school district, monitoring computer systems to ensure no inappropriate material made it through web filters to impressionable kids. Last month, Dixon was sentenced to five years probation, after he was convicted on 17 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of transmitting child pornography.

Police found pornographic images of children, including some younger than 12, during a 2005 raid of Dixon's North Miami Beach home. An informant told investigators that Dixon and other employees at the district's information technology services office had downloaded child pornography to their office computers — a charge that was never proven, according to David Sherman, the lead prosecutor for the State Attorney's Office. "We were unable to confirm it and, of course, the inspector general's office was shut down," Sherman said.

Dixon earned $55,006 a year and had been on paid administrative leave since his arrest two years ago, until his resignation last week. —Rob Jordan

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